Cloudways Review – Is Managed Cloud Hosting a Good Idea?
Cloud-based web services are all the rage these days. In fact, nearly every company that provides hosting has some form of cloud on which to rest your platform.
With so many options, how do your separate the good from the bad?
The answer is simple. You choose the one that offers a little extra without costing you a lot more. Companies like Cloudways are trying to provide that kind of value for service by giving you a different kind of managed cloud, Call it Cloud+, if you will.
What is Managed Cloud Hosting?
Managed cloud computing takes some of the best features of cloud-based platforms, namely distributed network availability across multiple servers, and adds an emphasis on security and consistency.
The Cloudways servers are carved out of virtual machines to combine the safety of on-premises private servers with the convenience and cost savings of a public model. This is an ideal atmosphere for developers to work in due to security and the ability to create servers that mimic a variety of geo-locations. That’s great for testing security, speed, and performance from an engineering perspective.
In general, managed cloud platforms offer you the advantage of:
Availability You Can Count On
The consistent availability is due to the way such platforms are structured through a system of storage area networks (SANs) and servers to provide failover protection that’s reliable.
Failover and resource management is automated in order to create a balance between physical machines and managed networks via virtualization. That means if one host crashes, there are others within the virtual network that will fill the gap automatically to keep your website up and running.
The environments of cloud servers and Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs) are protected by protocols like Intrusion Detection System (IDS)/Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) and firewalls.
Balanced Hybrid Platform
Although not a true hybrid model, managed cloud platforms are able to parse resources between shared, dedicated networks and cloud servers residing on the same servers.
With per-usage billing and a cost-effective hosting model, managed clouds give you the advantage of lower cost without sacrificing performance and security.
The goal of our Cloudways review is to provide you with a comprehensive evaluation of the benefits, features, and performance that makes Cloudways managed hosting a great solution for developers and enterprises of all sizes and industries.
Overview of Cloudways: Why it’s Different
The company was founded in 2011. Its centralized location in Malta offers several benefits. The network of servers places clients within easy reach of each other, which bolsters speed and access.
It also provides a fertile space for PHP app development, including containerized applications, in a secure environment. They’re able to do this by maintaining a secure PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) model that’s feature-rich and affordable.
Right off the bat, Cloudways gives you a two-week free trial so you can build and test your website and available features like the CloudwaysBot smart assistant without investing a penny. You have the option of creating a username and password or signing in with your LinkedIn, Github, or Google accounts.
From there, you’ll have to flexibility to choose from a wide range of content management systems (CMSs), including the three top platforms, WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. Others include:
- PHP Stack
- Sugar CRM
The selection isn’t limited to your CRM. You can integrate Cloudways on top of other cloud-based platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Vultr, and Digital Ocean. You’ll even have you choice of servers from the many the company has scattered across the country.
But, what about the details of this managed cloud computing service?
They offer very competitive pricing that starts at just $10 per month, and their performance is superior. With this company, there are no limits placed on CPU usage and bandwidth resources like some other hosting companies. That means you can have the dedicated resources you need without bumping up to a more expensive plan.
Price vs Performance
One of the first criteria for choosing a good hosting service is value compared to price. This is usually measured as a ratio of price:performance based on deliverability of services at a specified price. The lower the ratio, the more desirable the service.
Uptime vs Downtime
Do you know how much difference there is between an uptime of 99.8 and 99.999 (5-9s)? Although those numbers are only fractions of a second apart, the first number relates to 18 hours of downtime per year, and the other only nine minutes.
Many web hosts promise a certain level of uptime, but many fail to back it up with guarantees in writing by including it in their SLAs (service level agreements). Cloudways promises 99.999 percent availability, and it’s been proven out in testing. One tester pinged their website with a testing tool from multiple locations every 15 minutes for 30 days. In the review of their metrics at the end of that time period, there was not one instance of downtime.
Average Load Speed
In test after test, Cloudways was able to parse page loads down to milliseconds. Just for comparison, the top hosting platforms typically clock page loads at between one and 10 seconds. It’s worth noting that for every extra second it takes to load your website, your bounce rates will increase by up to 32 percent. That’s not going to be a problem with Cloudways, which has an average load time of around 616.5 milliseconds.
What makes this platform so fast? Technology in the form of stacked Apache, Memcached, Varnish, and Nginx.
Servers and Server Locations
Cloudways comes with access to their content delivery network that creates and sends multiple copies of your web pages to their global network consisting of 45 points-of-presence (PoPs). As soon as a request comes into their server, it’s automatically transferred to the nearest geo-location. That’s another factor that contributes to the speed and reliability of this hosting platform. Integration with their CDN costs $1 per 25GB of bandwidth. The CSN is supported by StackPath, which was formerly MaxCDN. You can also use Cloudflare or another CDN of your choice.
The company is headquartered in Malta, and has servers in every major European capital as well as major cities in the US, Asia, Australia, and two in South America at Rio de Janeiro and San Paolo, Brazil.
With Cloudways, you’re unlikely to run into issues with inadequate bandwidth. As long as you have a good handle on the amount of resources you’ll need, you can get bandwidth that runs the range from 1 – 12 terabytes.
Customer Support and Knowledge Base
Customer service is available by live chat 24/7/365. They also offer help desk tickets with a fast response and an option to speak to a live technician. The only drawback is that human-to-human interaction must be requested via an online form to schedule a callback or Skype session.
Like any company that’s confident in their level of service and responsiveness, Cloudways offers a money-back guarantee. In an effort to be different, it doesn’t follow the typical 30- or 60-day model. In fact, it’s so complicated, even customer service will refer you to their policy page rather than try to explain it to you.
Their knowledge base is extensive, with plenty of tutorials and advice to solve a range of hosting problems. There’s also a pretty active blog that’s filled with articles, and you can subscribe to get article and updates delivered straight to your inbox. You can even engage with the company and extended community on all major social media platforms.
Features are another place this platform really shines. It would take an entire novella to expound all of the virtues of Cloudways, so we’ll give you the highlights and let you know where it stands out from other cloud hosting solutions.
Although it may not remain unique for long, their PaaS service model is an innovation. The first thing we need to mention is the easy one-click installation and slider that allows you to configure your system by choosing an estimated number of pageviews you hope to get. The system then recommends a server size and other resources to meet your anticipated needs. You can also configure manually for a higher degree of customization.
Then, you’re ready to install your WordPress website or other CMS. You’ll get one free platform migration as a bonus.
But, that isn’t all that makes Cloudways a unique platform. Their feature sets are built around eCommerce, with a special collection of developer tools.
One of the best things about cloud hosting is the level of scalability. Since you pay only for the resources you use, you won’t have to worry about straining resources of paying for more than you need “just in case”.
If you’re using AWS or Google Cloud, you can deploy it to scale your CPU and RAM to meet your demands. You’ll also have two storage disks, one for applications and another for your database. This lends additional security as well.
In addition to support for WP security plugins, Cloudways offers a few features of their own. These include:
- Firewalls that restrict port access
- SSH and SFTP logins to prevent brute force attacks
- Database security through favored IP address whitelisting
- App isolation to keep apps launching separately even on the same server
- SSL certificates using Let’s Encrypt
- User role management to support a least privilege access protocol
- OS security and patchingm which can be configured to auto-install through Debian
- Cloudways Bug Bounty for crowdsourcing enterprising security enthusiasts, in partnership with BugCrowd
- Two-factor authentication for further access control
- GDPR compliance
- End-to-end encryption
Backup and Restore
Backups are automatically performed by default, and the restoration function is operable with just a click. Admins can also manually configure backups to run on their preferred schedule.
You’ll sleep easier knowing that you’re getting 24-hour live monitoring and alerts. Cloudways also provides you with New Relic integration to troubleshoot performance issues, and the CloudwaysBot to notify you of problems.
Add-ons and Integrations
When you need additional functionality, Cloudways delivers with a number of add-ons and integrations. The list includes:
- Cloudways API
- CloudwaysBot Channels
- Application Migration
- SMTP add-on
- Backspace Email add-on
- DNS Made Easy add-on
- Cloudways Support add-ons
This unique features is like having an on-board assistant. It can answer questions, make a recommendation, give you tips as you work, or send out alerts via Slack, HipChat, or email. You can customize the type of notifications, and developers can interact with the CloudwaysBot through custom APIs.
Developers can manage their teams through an admin console, where they can assign roles and grant permissions, and you can set up special access for temporary team members like consultants and security specialists.
Although you’re restricted from root access, you are able to conduct staging and testing, or gain command line access through SSH.
If you’re developing in PHP, you’ll be happy to note that Cloudways offers a choice between working with PHP7 or choosing from among several frameworks. Facilitating scripting operations is accomplished by the provided RESTfulAPI. There’s even an API Playground for script testing.
The only cons we could really find with this platform are that it’s difficult to get customer support on the phone, and the accounts don’t include email addresses or an option for domain registration. You can get email addresses, but it will cost you a little extra. You’ll also get limited support if you’re developing in a language like Ruby, Python, or JS, and you don’t have root access.
Service Types and Pricing Plans
In addition to a 14-day free trial, Cloudways offers up to 11 levels of service. The rates may seem less than competitive at first glance, but you should take into account that platform management is included in that price.
The company works on a pay-as-you-go model, and they include some goodies like free migration and SSL certificates, unlimited app installation, and expert 24/7 support with every plan. Services are charged on an hourly basis, while the platform-as-a-service is billed monthly. You can pay via major credit card or PayPal.
The main four service tiers are:
– DO1GB service for $10 per month/$0.0139 per hour, which includes 1GB of RAM, a single core processor, 25GB of storage, and 1TB of bandwidth
– DO2GB for $22 per month/$0.0306 per hour that includes 2GB of RAM, one core, 50GB of storage, and 2TB of bandwidth
– DO4GB (most preferred) at $42 monthly/$0.0583 per hour, with 4Gb of RAM, dual cores, 80GB of storage, and 4TB of bandwidth
– DO8GB at $80 per month/$0.1111 an hour, which comes with 8GB of RAM, quad-core processor, 150GB of storage, and 5TB of bandwidth
The platforms extend to three new levels, DO96, 128, and 192GB that increase your capabilities to a mind-blowing 192GB of RAM, a 32 core processor, 3840GB of storage, and 12TB of bandwidth for $1,035 per month/$1.4375 per hour.
The stated mission of Cloudways is to “Empower people so that they can move their dreams forward”. We hope this Cloudways Review was able to answer any questions you have about this hosting option.
If you’re looking for an affordable flexible hosting solution for your eCommerce website or web building activities. From our perspective, Cloudways gives you the best of this type of hosting platform, with some extra goodies thrown in for good measure.
FAQs: Managed Cloud Hosting
If you’re looking for just a few tidbits of information, welcome to our FAQ of Cloudways managed hosting.
Q: Where is Cloudways based?
A: The company is headquartered at 52 Springvale, Pope Pius XII Street, Mosta MST2653, in Malta. This offers the benefit of a centralized location that’s accessible from Europe, the US, and other lucrative global business hubs.
Q: What is managed WordPress hosting?
A: It’s hosting service that handles many of the specifics of running a WordPress website for you. That means they take care of maintenance and backups/fresoration duties. Since most are cloud hosting platforms, you won’t have to concern yourself as much with security, uptime, and scalability, either.